Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In the Beginning, There Was the Signal

Science's Digital Chickens Come Home (err...to the Library) to Roost

For those of you who know me well, you've probably heard some of my metaphysical and "deep physics" ideas about the structure of the universe.

Here's one of my favorites: The true fundamental building block of the universe is Information.

When you peer down, deeply down, into the fundamentals of matter (and energy) you find…nothing. Nothing concrete, that is. Quantum physics - the most successful theory in the history of the science* - tells us that elementary particles are not particles at all. The "Copenhagen Interpretation" (Neils Bohr & company) states that "there is no deep reality" beyond the illusion of the particles and waves (and they are illusions). Pretty weird.

I have always felt that there was something amiss with the Copenhagen Interpretation ("Gee, really?").

I've pondered this gap for a number of years, starting early in my career in the network technology business. Back then, I learned about something called "Information Theory" - actually the theory of how information (and how much information) can be stored or carried using certain technologies. And one part of it (the Nyquist Rate, for those who care) caught my attention, and looped me back to this problem of deep reality.

I got this crazy notion that deep reality, that which was beyond the illusory "material" world, was actually information. A probability wave is not an object, but an aspect of design, a blueprint so-to-speak. A field is not a "thing", but an expression of an effect (perhaps, of an "intent").

When you dig down deeply enough, you go beyond matter and quantized energy into a domain of description, of information. Of design. From there, one might say that all the blueprints of the Universe are stored in that mysterious vault often called the Akashic Records. Physicists just might agree.

For you science folks who are still with me, here's a snip from Wikipedia:
The Akashic Records (akasha is a Sanskrit word meaning "sky", "space" or "aether") is a term used in theosophy (and Anthroposophy) to describe a compendium of mystical knowledge encoded in a non-physical plane of existence. These records are described as containing all knowledge of human experience and the history of the cosmos.
The other day I saw an article in the Februay 2012 issue of Scientific American.  Craig Hogan and a crew at FermiLab is digging around in just this domain.

From the article,
"Physicists have, over the past couple of decades, uncovered profound insights into how the universe stores information - even going so far as to suggest that information, not matter and energy, constitutes the most basic unit of existence."
Ahhh, that feels good! And from here, the first words of the Gospel according to John make a whole lot more sense.

*Quantum Theory has never failed to accurately predict an experimental result (even when the predictions are so screwy that the physicists dread to discover that the universe actually works that way...)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Feeling As Competently As I Think

Rodin's "The Kiss"

I've set for myself a worthy goal: To have as much awareness, confidence, competence, and refinement in my ability to feel as I have in my ability to think.

I will be working on this goal assiduously for however long it takes.

I've always been confident in my thinking skills and capacity. I love to think. I love to extend my knowledge, build bridges between concepts, and extrapolate into rarified cognitive air.

Thinking about thinking, too. Philosophy. Justice. Art. Compassion. Mysticism and science. Lots and lots of domains of intellectual exploration.

Detail - See the book in his
hand, not being read?
Recently, I realized that feeling - not "thinking about feeling" or "analyzing my feelings" was a treasure trove of growth. It helped me banish some encroaching depression. It helped me increase my cardiovascular capacity. It taps into an (apparently) infinite universe that I've really just begun to understand.

And there's an interesting difference, for me, between thinking and feeling. If I'm doing it right, feeling is effortless. Exertionless, even. And yet its harvest is extraordinary.

The down side is, of course, that I'm really a babe in the woods on this half of my consciousness, compared to the 50 years of intense focus on my thinking machinery. I may have a long road ahead of me.

The good news is that it's an amazingly rich and colorful, sensuous and sensory road. I can see that already.

What a cool journey.  Anybody want to join me?

(Anybody willing to help?)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Breathing through Resistance

Exploring Inner Sustainability - From Grand Schemes to Innermost Choices

I've know for a while that a major breakthrough is waiting for me through the mastery of breath. 

But there is resistance in me - in many dimensions, including resistance to mastering the breath, even though I know that my life will be better on the other side of it.

I think I've discovered how to break through that resistance. 

I examined the sources of the resistance, and I saw how the resistance was being reinforced. That was actually the more important element in the whole mix. 

Oddly, surprisingly (or...perhaps not?), it was reinforced by self-judgement. This self-judgement was non-verbal. It came in the forms of...Pressure. Disgust at failure. Anger at inadequacy. Not-enough-ness. 

Describing it with words is difficult.

What to do...? I felt my way into the resistance (and the judgement) and let it sit for a breath or two. Then I began to breathe into it and through it, and it began to break up and become smaller, lighter, less like dead weight. 

Here's the key: I did this in a way that was "sustainable"

I didn't try to make it all go away at once. I didn't judge myself for going slowly and feeding myself along the way. 

It has become clear to me that a fundamental impediment to my progress is that I push too hard. Pushing too hard means that the push isn't sustainable. Apparently, that applies on every level, from grand schemes to the innermost choices. Posture. Breath. Right Action. Truth. 

I combined this realization with something I learned in yoga. Using the mind to push the body past its comfort zone into pain and exhaustion (and injury) leads to the body not trusting the mind to do the "self-sustaining" thing. And that, in turn, leads the body into resistance, which actually SLOWS progress. And resistance leads the mind into judgement. And judgement leads to stagnation. 

So, I woke up this morning and did just enough QiGong to make me feel good, at a pace that reinforced itself. I look forward to feeling that way again. 

Now that's sustainable.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Buddha Whispered In My Ear

In the wee hours, while I was lying in bed, the Buddha whispered to me. He said, "The pain of holding on is worse than the pain of letting go."

The pain of holding on is the pain of attachment. It leads to disease and stagnation, resistance, and suffering. Ultimately, it kills you.

The pain of letting go is the pain of detachment. It leads to freedom. To healing. Ultimately, to rebirth (see the seminal case of Caterpillar v Butterfly).

I've been known to say to my clients, "There are two kinds of pain. The pain where healing is occurring, and the pain where healing is not occurring. Which kind would you prefer to feel?"

I know this to be true deep inside myself, and yet I cling. Purging remains a deep challenge.

Old habits, it seems, are hard to shake.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Why are there Two Wolves?

Cherokee Fable Points to Serious Design Flaw

I received a letter recently, from someone whom I care about. It was not a happy letter; it was quite critical of me. That's all I'll say about it, because, interestingly, it's not the content of the letter that bothers me.

I'm actually puzzling about my reaction to it. I don't feel hurt, particularly (OK, if I'm honest, I do feel a little hurt, although not that long ago I might have been devastated). 

No, rather I'm pondering why a constructive reaction is not my first impulse.

It's a simple thing. You get negative feedback. What do you do? Fire back a tightly-worded counter-attack? Sure seems like it would feel good. But what purpose would it serve?

Or, do you construct a delicately-worded response designed to soothe and engage with love and compassion?

Sounds like the later would be the better option.

So why does the former beckon?

I'm reminded of the old Cherokee story of the Grandfather who counsels his grandson about the two wolves fighting inside him - the "good wolf" and the "angry wolf". The grandson asks which one wins. Grandfather replies, "The one I feed."

It's a beautiful tale, and among many on the web, this version matches what I remember from my childhood.

But what I really want to know is - Why are there two wolves?

Seems like a bad design to me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012: The Year of Action

Welcome to the action. Claim your piece.

Early in 2011 I got the message that 2011 would be the year of Authenticity - the year where doing what wasn't true would be hard, and discovering what we truly are would be paramount.

I hadn't given similar thought to 2012. It seemed like there was already so much written and said about 2012 that I would have little to add.

Then, last night, a quiet, gently foggy night, I got the message.

"2012 is the year of Action."

Action vs. Taking Action:
2012 will be the year of action whether we as individuals choose to act or not. As the saying goes, "No decision is a decision." Similarly, choosing not to act is a choice to have others direct your actions. In this case, I suspect we will be compelled by circumstances to be actors in the grand drama, however uncomfortable that may be at times. Better to participate in choosing the course.

Selfish Action vs. Community Action:
One can argue that a selfish act can be an act in support of the community, and that an act in support of community can also serve the self. I like this perspective, because it suggests that we have a choice to bring these two courses, which on the surface seem so antipodal, into a kind of harmonious alignment.

When contemplating an act, consider what aspects of it are selfish, in a community-damaging way. Then see how those aspects can be eliminated or mitigated.

How can the "selfish" act become "sustainable"?

My favorite call to action of this type (one that I've heard probably thousands of times) is, "Put on your own mask before helping others…"

The "Good", the "Bad", and the "Bridge":
The notion of taking action can conjure thoughts of political and community activism, and working toward our objectives (and against the opposition's). I will no doubt be pulled to "Support the Good" and "Resist the Bad". There is the aphorism, attributed to Edmund Burke, that "All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to stand by and do nothing".

But there is a third course of action - the act of relentlessly pursuing understanding, communion, and communication. Being a bridge.

Jesus broke bread with the sinners. And he did not judge them.
"Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
(Or, from the Aramaic, "Blessed are they who make peace…" Note how that feels very active...)

I am committing to more regular publishing of thoughts here at the Firefly Willows blog; I'm also committing to another course of action: The Swallowtail Project blog. There you will find my more "activist" writings, and, I hope, my successful exertions at being a bridge.

Welcome, 2012. Welcome to the action. Claim your piece.